Gold toilet artwork stuck in production

The gold Maurizio Cattelan: America (above, in a handout picture) is by Maurizio Cattelan.
The gold Maurizio Cattelan: America (above, in a handout picture) is by Maurizio Cattelan.PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES
The gold Maurizio Cattelan: America is by Maurizio Cattelan (above).
The gold Maurizio Cattelan: America is by Maurizio Cattelan (above).PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES

Creation of Maurizio Cattelan's piece for the Guggenheim Museum in New York seemed to be plagued by technical issues

NEW YORK • Somebody find a plumber with a golden plunger.

Serious technical issues are holding up production of Italian Maurizio Cattelan's 18-karat gold toilet, a sculpture he created that was set for installation at the Guggenheim Museum on Wednesday, according to a spokesman there.

On Tuesday, the museum announced that the exhibition of Maurizio Cattelan: America, as the sculpture is called, would be delayed and that no new opening date had been set.

"It's not days, but I can't be more specific than that right now," a spokesman said.

The solid-gold toilet, a working replica of a standard Kohler one, is an ambitious tour de force to have been installed in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed bathroom along the museum's curving ramp.

You could go into the restroom just to bask in its glow, Cattelan has said, but it becomes an artwork only with someone sitting on it or standing over it, answering nature's call.

The toilet was being made in the artist's studio in Italy when "the foundry encountered technical difficulties which they are working to resolve", a museum spokesman said. "To the museum's knowledge, this kind of casting process has never been done before."

And, no, the Guggenheim insists this is not another prank by Cattelan, who retired from art- making in 2011, but recently found himself eager to get back in the game.

"Actually, it's even more of a torture not to work than to work," he said in announcing the end of retirement last month in The New York Times.

The sculpture is a punning extension of his work on a magazine called Toilet Paper and also a wry tip of his hat to Marcel Duchamp's Fountain urinal.

Neither the Guggenheim, the toilet's host, nor the artist would give a cost for the toilet, saying only that it was a loan and would be paid for with private funds.

Creating the toilet, Cattelan said, gave him a way "to get around the wall I had hit".

Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back, a documentary, recently made its debut at the Guggenheim as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.

For the Guggenheim, Cattelan's return is probably not soon enough.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2016, with the headline 'Gold toilet artwork stuck in production'. Print Edition | Subscribe